03 September 2007

Anniversary Season

Yesterday was my birthday. We're in the midst of anniversaries connected with the Second World War, including the invasion of Poland in 1939, the British declaration of war, and the signing of the treaty in Tokyo Harbour in 1945. However, I notice that today is the anniversary of the battle of Ain Jalut, fought between the Islamic military regime of Mameluke Egypt, and the invading Mongols. The battle is one of those 'high water marks' of history, marking the end of the Mongol 'threat' to the Islamic Middle East, and you can read about the wider campaign here.

However, it got me to thinking about how things look from a different historical perspective. Westerners like me are familiar with the treatment of the battle of Tours in 732 as the high water mark of the Moslems in Europe. Although, in fact, this honour may better be bestowed on the 1683 siege of Vienna. The current War in Iraq is simply part of a continuing struggle over the remains of the Ottoman Empire, dismembered by France and Britain in the Treaty of Sévres.

So if, indeed, we are at the high water mark of Western domination of the Middle East, have we had our "Ain Jalut moment"? Was it, in fact, the 1930s Arab Revolt in Palestine, during which the British mandate began to unravel? Or is our "Ain Jalut" still to come?

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